There is a disturbing religion in Western society, particularly in America. It is the religion of the corporation. That the almighty corporation is going to come and save us from the evils of disease, depression, and environmental destruction. The only exception being the small minority of companies that the media and government has chosen to pick on, we will call them fall guys. ExxonMobil, Purdue, and Koch Industries aside from a few others. These are the ones that are socially acceptable to criticize. All other companies, if we are to believe the media and government, are angels here to fight poverty and injustice the world over and anyone who say’s otherwise is a xenophobic conspiracy theorist who does not believe in science (metaphorically speaking).
So, how did such an absurd concept come to dominate the American mind. The answers simple. The government portrays themselves as the protector. Regulating companies and punishing them if they do something wrong. With this idea it is easy to see how people can put so much faith in corporations. If the corporation is demonized and attacked by the government then they are no good. But if it is being propped up then they are heroes. It is the false narrative that is government oversight. There is no oversight. At least, none that is productive.
The objective here is to illustrate how the United States government, the very entity that is supposed to be protecting the public from harmful corporate practices such as illegal dumping, harmful substances in products, pollution, etc. and disciplining those that commit these acts, protect them. That the government and their regulators (EPA, FDA etc.) have largely been their guardian angels. And that some of the largest corporations own the U.S. government lock, stock, and barrel. They do this not only through lobbying but also by being themselves members of government positions of all levels (federal, state, and local) as well as being members of governmental factions like the CIA. The idea of government oversight is a joke. That is not to say they do not do what their supposed to all the time. But their primary objective is to protect the perpetrators, not punish.
To illustrate this point let us focus on the Genetically Modified Food (GMO) business. GMO’s and Genetically Engineered (GE) foods and plants have been proven to be harmful to one’s health and even cancer causing. This has led to the labeling of foods and drinks verifying whether something is non-GMO. This is a win for the consumer and proves that the government, to some extent, does do its job and regulates companies and enforces that regulation. However, upon further examination its revealed how the government worked hand in hand with companies to make sure something like GE’s could be created and put in food.
In the mid-eighties biologist Philip Regal attempted to expose the dangers made by GE’s and pushed for bioengineered edible plants to be tested. “We have extensive evidence that genetic engineering can disrupt biochemical traffic in ways that cause bizarre side effects.” Regal would attend a 1988 conference in Annapolis that consisted of spokespersons from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who went out of their way to avoid answering any questions relating to GE foods and the possible negative health effects they could have on people. The conference would reveal to Regel that the industries and the government collectively concluded that making sure genetically altered foods were safe for consumption was not an objective.
The type of attitude Regel kept coming across was “if the American people want progress, they are going to have to be the guinea pigs.” The atmosphere of the place was that the free market would correct itself because of lawsuits, this is common rhetoric regurgitated by the media and those in the corporate sector. The idea that companies would not do anything that would harm people because they would be sued is asinine. Companies are constantly under fire for things. Either they avoid getting sued because they can afford better lawyers, or the government protects them or they do get sued but they have so much money and influence in the media that they can continue to conduct their business anyway. And when it comes to the GE business, cancers and other illnesses caused by the foods would arise overtime through repeated exposure, like cigarettes. This would make it hard to pinpoint the origins of any illness. When Regal pointed this out none of the other scientist wanted to concur in fear of risking their careers and reputations.
The allowance of GE foods is criminal not only because it harms people but also because it literally breaks the law. In 1958, Congress upgraded the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) which is a consumer protection law and was strengthened to deal with the then newly introduced food additives which implemented the Food Additive Amendment of 1958.
The Divisions of Food and Chemistry and Technology stated in a memo: “…some undesirable effects such as increased levels of known naturally occurring toxins, appearance of new, not previously identified toxicants, increased capability of concentrating toxic substances from the environment (e.g. pesticides or heavy metals), and undesirable alterations in the levels of nutrients may escape breeders’ attention unless genetically engineered plants are evaluated before it enters the marketplace.”
Yet despite this, GE foods would enter the market. This is not something that was allowed only during the Reagan years when neoliberalism, Reaganomics and Thatcherism was being normalized. This is something that has been allowed throughout both liberal and conservative administrations collectively.
If there is one corporation that should be taken note of its Monsanto, now Bayer Monsanto, who is the largest developer of genetically engineered plants. As a 2001 New York Times article stated, “What Monsanto wished for from Washington, Monsanto-and, by extension, the biotechnology industry-got.”
This is further emphasized by Henry I. Miller who dealt with biotechnology issues at the FDA between 1974 and 1994. “The U.S. government agencies have done exactly what big agribusiness has asked them to do and told them to do.”
To demonstrate this, the George H.W. Bush Administration embraced a policy Monsanto was pushing on the FDA to project the facade that its foods were being responsibly regulated. This caused a conflict between the administration and some of the experts in the agency who wanted it regulated legitimately. To win this battle the FDA brought in Michael Taylor as the Deputy Commissioner for Policy who had not only worked for the FDA but was also a partner in the law firm of King & Spalding where the clients were Monsanto and the International Food Biotechnology Council. Obviously, there was a conflict of interest here.
Naturally, Taylor wiped out anything to do with differences between GE foods and their conventional counterparts. The document was further altered because of an administrator in the office of the Assistant for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services who did not approve of the potential problems caused by GE crops towards the environment. He declared, “the extensive twelve-page discussion seems to be…dangerously detailed and drawn out…In contrast to the sections on food safety, which properly imply that biotechnology will be substantially equivalent to those with which we are already familiar, the (environmental) section gives an incorrect impression that biotechnology raises significant new agricultural and environmental concerns.”
Because of that statement the environmental concern part was taken out, revised, and considered “dangerously detailed.” The final, whitewashed document was published in the Federal Register. The FDA experts attempted for months to get a science-based policy instated but instead got it deformed while the compromised requests from the executive office got theirs published within days.
“Lucky accident placed aluminum at Mellon’s doorstep; a superb organization propagated its virtues, applied its uses; but it was the Government itself that cooperated with the Pittsburgh banker to force industry to beat a path to his door.” “For twenty-one years it shielded him from domestic competition by throwing the mantle of patent protection around his process of manufacture; thereafter tariff walls along the American seacoast kept his European allies from falling out of line in the world-wide lockstep of aluminum prices.”
There is no better example of how the government is an instrument for the private sector than the Mellon family. The Mellon’s have profited off US policy for over a century. Andrew W. Mellon was himself apart of the government as US Secretary of Treasury under Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover during the former part of the Twentieth Century. During that time, he created the Mellon Plan which naturally instated policies that reduced taxes on the wealthy, advocated for high tariffs and cut government spending.
However, to understand the true nature of Mellon’s control over the US government an observation of the Mellon Family’s Gulf Oil empire is necessary. During this time, Gulf Oil was expanding its empire throughout the Southern Hemisphere. This expansion would be dependent on having good relationships with the leaders of South American countries. Leaders like Venezuelan dictator Juan Gomez who put thousands of political prisoners, whom many of them happen to be high school and college students, on chain gangs as well as subjecting them to torture in which they were hung up with meat hooks through their jaws, for crimes as simple as holding public meetings opposing his dictatorship. Thousands of Venezuelans had to flee their home country to escape the atrocities of the Gomez regime.
Although Gomez’s policies were undemocratic and inhumane for the Venezuelan people, they were greatly beneficial for the American oil companies like Gulf Oil who enjoyed light taxes courtesy of dictator Gomez. Foreign petroleum represented a third of Venezuela’s revenue which by the way little of it was spent on education. By 1929, production of Gulf Oil rose to 30,000,000 barrels which were valued at $20,000,000.
Gomez would not be the only South American President the Mellon’s would dance with. President Enrique Olaya Herrera of Columbia would be another cheerleader for the Gulf kings. In 1931, despite opposition from Columbia’s residents, Congress passed a bill that allowed the building of Gulf Oil’s pipeline in Columbia which was pushed by President Olaya who faced accusations of being Columbia’s representative of Gulf Oil and other American companies. It is easy to see how the bill could be passed considering the type of people that held public positions. Andrew Mellon was Secretary of Treasury, Gerrard Winston was the former Chief Aide to Secretary Mellon and was then counsel for National City Bank, Allen Dulles was former Under Secretary of State and at the time represented Morgan’s Carib Development Syndicate which was part owner of the Mellon concession and Herbert Stabler who was former chief of the State Department’s Latin-American Division and was then on the payroll of Gulf Oil as the South American advisor.
The Mellon family to this day is one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the country and the world. Mellon family members still play major roles in government as well as having major interest in a diversity of industries. Their reputation has been watered down and decorated with ornaments of social justice and charity thanks to their non-profit organizations such as the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Richard King Mellon Foundation, among others. The Mellon family, if remembered at all, is known for being warriors of progressivism to the gullible know-nothings of academia who are easily persuaded by euphemisms and trite talking points, despite the Mellon’s long history of anti-social and fascistic behavior. The Mellon’s, through the State Department, has completely immersed themselves into U.S. foreign policy, a policy that is funded not by one of the richest families in the country but by the blood and green of the American taxpayers.
The United Fruit Company
The most compelling example of how US foreign policy is completely compromised beyond repair is the Guatemalan intervention debacle in 1954. This policy was not enacted to overthrow communism as what is widely believed but to do the bidding of the United Fruit Company which today is the Chiquita Brands International.
The United Fruit Company (UFCO) was created from a merger between a Costa Rican railroad which was founded by Minor C. Keith from Brooklyn and the Boston Fruit Company founded by Keith and the Boston elite. UFCO became the biggest landowner in Guatemala as well as its largest employer. The company owned land in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Columbia, Santo Domingo, Cuba, and Jamaica as well. By the end of 1950, the private investment of the US in Latin America was $6 billion. During that same year, Latin America purchased about $2.7 billion worth of US goods which amounted to about 50% of its total imports from all its sources.
The UFCO played a major role in many of South Americas dictatorships. After Keith died, he was replaced by Samuel Zemurray whose New Orleans Cuymel Fruit Company had its primary interests in Honduras where it played a role in Manuel Bonilla’s coup in 1911. Once in power, Bonilla protected Zemurray’s empire which was then able to flourish in the country. Bonilla’s successor Francisco Bertrand did the same.
In 1929, Zemurray’s company would merge with the UFCO and became director and its largest shareholder. It was Zemurray who greatly helped push UFCO to become an authoritarian like state. He would influence the other great landholders to back the Guatemalan dictator Ubico who once in power renegotiated UFCO’s contract. It is also worth noting that the UFCO was represented by the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell whose executive partner was John Foster Dulles who played a role in developing the US’s Latin American foreign policy.
Because of this deal UFCO received a ninety-nine-year lease on the land on both coasts, bringing its total property then to more than the combined holding of half of Guatemala’s landholding population. Furthermore, they were exempted from all taxes including an export tax on bananas. The contract also suspended a 1930 provision that required the UFCO to build a new port on the Pacific coast with railroad connections to Guatemala City. Almost all of Guatemala’s commerce already had to pass through the company-controlled Puerto Barrios, through UFCO’s subsidiary, the International Railways of Central America (IRACA formed by Keith in the 1920’s). This railroad monopoly enabled it to reap huge profits from transporting produce from the Pacific to the Caribbean. The UFCO exported almost one-third of all its bananas that traveled from Latin America to the US and Europe. It was also the leading banana grower in every Central American and Caribbean country.
The man the UFCO pushed into power, General Jorge Ubico was himself a dictator and Guatemala’s third largest landowner. Ubico often subjected the Native Indians to extreme measures of disease ratification including burning their homes.
United Fruit was not the first American entity Ubico associated with. Ubico was a military overseer of the yellow fever campaign, a project of the Rockefeller Foundation controlled by the Rockefeller family who had a controlling interest in the United Fruit Company.
All was going well for the banana kings until 1951 when Jacob Arbenz Guzman became President. Contrary to Ubico, Arbenz was a nationalist who wanted to improve wages and put in policies of land reform. Arbenz initiated a land-distribution plan against United Fruit. He also built a road linking the Pacific Coast to Puerto Barrios on the Caribbean coast which provided an alternative to the high freight fares charged by the UFCO railroad. Moreover, Arbenz built a new port that connected to the road to compete with United Fruits docking monopoly. This of course, threatened the United Fruit Company.
The UFCO was also undergoing issues with its agricultural workers who were mostly peasants. They were pressing for reforms due to discriminatory policies, high-priced company stores, low wages, poor housing, lack of safe working conditions, lack of workers compensation, and hundreds of thousands of acres of uncultivated land. These resistances were intensified even further with Arbenz as President.
The American business interests that were controlling the UFCO concluded that Arbenz would have to be overthrown. This would not be too difficult to accomplish given the fact that both John Foster Dulles (who also represented Wall Street) and President Dwight D. Eisenhower were fanatical anti-communist. Whispers of Communists takeovers in Latin America and other rhetoric of the red scare helped push the simple-minded suits in Washington to jump with both feet into the Guatemalan swamps.
The code name of the project to overthrow Arbenz was PBSUCCESS and it was headquartered in Opa Locka, Fl. Allen Dulles and Deputy Director Frank Wisner used psychological warfare against Arbenz to convince him that he had lost the support of his country and that he was facing a formidable foe. The CIA used their radio service to spread propaganda on Guatemala’s air waves. Arbenz further made the situation worse when he panicked and shut off Guatemala City’s electricity leaving the CIA’s radio as the only source of developing news which consisted of mythical rebel columns approaching the city. This caused the residents to flee.
Moreover, Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas had been interviewed by the CIA and was chosen to be Guatemala’s savior. He led a trained army of 300 men armed by the United Fruit Company across the Honduran border. Meanwhile, the CIA dropped bombs on Guatemala City. This was all coordinated by Allen Dulles and his brother in the State Department. On the international scene, Nelson Rockefeller’s friend Henry Cabot Lodge fought against the UN Security Council who were taking up Arbenz’s complaint. John Foster Dulles also used threats of economic reprisals to condemn Guatemala.
Despite being championed as spreading democracy by the US media and government, the invasion was condemned by Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. Guatemala’s request for a UN observer team to confirm the invasion was rejected by a vote of 10-1 in the Security Council. The Security Council declared that this was not an invasion but an “internal dispute” and must be referred to the Organization of American States (OAS). The president of the Security Council was none other than U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge and the Security General of the OAS was Nelson Rockefeller’s other friend Carlos Davila of Chile.
Arbenz wounded up being betrayed by his military colleagues and eventually lost confidence and surrendered. All the lands that were distributed to the peasantry were returned to their former owners which was predominantly United Fruit. More than 500 union locals lost their legal registration which destroyed the banana workers’ federation. The lands, plantations and mines were once again open to American investment. Castillo Armas also threw open the country to American oil companies. Dulles State Department designed a new petroleum law for Guatemala which restricted Guatemala’s share of profits to a maximum of 50%. Also, the companies were granted a generous oil-depletion allowance and could deduct any losses incurred since the 1945 revolution from any of those year’s profits.
The point being: the U.S. government (not limited too though) has its primary objective towards protecting corporations and other interests not the American people. It is the same for whether we are talking about domestic like in the case of the FDA or foreign like the State Department. Every time the media and the government talk about invading another country to spread democracy, we should ask ourselves who benefits. The State Department, the regulating departments as well as Congress are filled with representatives and associates of American corporations therefore, it makes sense that the government is going to do what is good, not for its taxpaying citizens, but for Wall Street and now Silicon Valley who pay no taxes at all.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting to get different results. We have been falling for the same rhetoric for over a century. Americans need to wake up and see government policy for what it is. Living in ignorance will only hurt us further and then when people get sick or their taxes go up or their kid dies in the Middles East, they will be scratching their heads wondering how it happened.
This is not to say that nothing good ever comes from corporations, they are after all, the ones that create jobs, cures for diseases, entertainment and provide society with vast number of luxuries and other benefits. Nor is it that government entities like the FDA and EPA should be disposed of. The problem lies with the monopolization of industries. People have no options. There is no diversity of business. The power of industry has fallen into the hands of a few corporations. Those corporations have associates working in government agencies and even hold significant power in those agencies. So, society is forced to depend on them. Without diversity of industry society will have no choice but to rely on ruthless corporations who play lord over their government fiefdom.
Steven M. Drunker, Altered Genes, Twisted Truth (Salt Lake City, UT: Clear River Press, 2015).
Harvey O’Connor, Mellon’s Millions: The Life And Times of Andrew W. Mellon (New York, NY: Blue Ribbon Books, Inc., 1933).
Richard H. Immerman, The CIA In Guatemala: The Foreign Policy of Intervention (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1982).
Gerard Colby with Charlotte Dennett, Thy Will Be Done: The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil (HarperCollins, 1995).